What phenomena, you ask? Well, let's start with Coastal Paths. Pembrokeshire is very proud of its Coastal Paths. They're really really long (in part, due to the nature of Wales, being an incredibly... crinkly place), they're very pretty...
...And they're slightly less well maintained than my vegetable intake. This rivals the amount of attention that is paid to our roads, but more on that (and a phenomenon peculiar to rural areas like Pembrokeshire) when we get there.
This is your first inkling that not all is right with the world: Pembrokeshire is a place full of fae folk. Fae folks are bastards, and not in the pleasant and genial way of your current host, who will only lightly torture you before leaving you in an easily escapable and highly implausible death trap. Fae love this sort of fucking tunnel tree... thing, and it's decidedly unsafe. But funnily enough, not as unsafe as certain other portions of our lovely Coastal Paths. If safety (from supernatural creatures that many don't believe exist, but I know, I KNOW - coff) was the only problem, that would be fine...
But it's not.
What a lovely field, eh? But there are two things that are missing here. One of them is anything but the vaguest pointer as to where you should be going (that arrow is your only clue in most fields. The other is that there is a growing crop here, and there is no sign on this gate (the more commonly traversed direction being away from Fishguard) that politely says "Stick to the clearly worn and trampled bit, so that Farmer Dai will not fucking have you if he catches you, so help me, Duw you fucked 10% of my production with your careless ways, and you will not walk for six months now, butty boy!"
You'd be amazed how many people don't get this basic concept, so you'd think they'd be more careful about putting signs up. Farmer Dai is not to be messed with, and not for nothing do we call one of our national agricultural groups "The MAFFia"
But, to be fair, the coastal path is filled with two things, and you can occasionally see one other thing. Let's talk about the two things, because the one thing is basically what any sane and loving couple will do in a field when they don't think there's a remote chance of any discovery and weather permits.
- Beautiful landscapes, showing off the fascinating geology and agricultural richness of the region (Well, okay, maybe not that last bit)
- More hidden coves (and equally hidden and arduous ways to get to them, in many cases) than you can shake a stick at.
Case in point. Note: It's your own damn fault if you trip and fall down this one.
The Coastal Paths are both lovely and dangerous, and it is advised to travel them in only conditions not described as "torrential rain", "your usual pitch black Pembrokeshire night", or "fuck me, it's a bit foggy, isn't it?" I'd give you a really good example of being easy to get lost, but I'll just describe it.
It's a field. There are no signposts, the grass has grown, and only whoever tramped past today will have left any clue which way to go. Don't worry, you'll get where you're meant to eventually, but odds are you'll have traversed the whole field any which way you went.
So yeah, I had real fun with the paths, which, by the way, only put those wooden stair things you saw last post on muddy slopes in the path when the stars align, and some horrible accident tangentially related appears in the local papers. And they put them only in the place where that thing wot was somewhat distressing happened.
In any case, my shoelace broke (poor things weren't strong enough for my boots), I got lost along coastal paths, randomly came across a pair of lovers canoodling (as was implied... And lo, both parties were duly both distressed and amused), and finally came to a choice... Do I continue along the Coastal Path, or do I take the possibly safer option of a road?
Fucking right I took the road. And, while not a worse idea than taking the Path in the first place, it allows me to talk about another wonderful artefact of Pembrokeshire... RoadSpace.
See, Roads in Pembrokeshire are special, nay, magical. Behind me, in this photo, is more road. That way eventually leads to a single farmhouse, with anything up to 10 people (but more likely less than 5) living there. So you'd imagine there's not a whole lot of traffic. But it doesn't work like that. You can guarantee that either you will be completely unbothered for your journey, or that at least 10 cars will come hurtling down what Pembrokeshire would call a B-Road, maybe a C-Road (no longer an official designation, afaik). Not tractors, not milk trucks or gas trucks or any of a number of other things a farmhouse might need to have truck with... Cars. And, if asked, over half of these people would not have a fucking clue what's at the other end. Luckily, I had the first option.
But RoadSpace isn't the roads themselves... Oh no. RoadSpace is the weird things that happen to Space and Time when you're on these little roads. Which Pembrokeshire is full of, by the way. Time moves differently in RoadSpace, and what may seem like a ten minute walk (because the scenery is alright on either side, it's just the road that looks a bit shit... always with pebbles and grass in the middle, for no discernible reason beyond the ravages of time) is actually forty minutes of walking... half a mile. As the crow flies. I've said it before, and it bears repeating, but Wales is crinkly. But it's subtly crinkly.
In any case, after spending about thirty minutes RoadSpace time, I finally get to the main A road between Cardigan (capital of Ceredigion County) and Haverfordwest (capital of Pembrokeshire County), which, coincidentally, happens to also lead back to Fishguard, where I live. Which is a good way to show just how crinkly the place is.
See that harbour, and the lovely houses in the distance? That isn't Fishguard. That's Goodwick, our neighbour (Who would technically be a district of Fishguard if it weren't for the Gwaun river, the marshy land around it, bloody mindedness, and, of course, our old friend Politics). Fishguard also isn't just round the corner. You're being welcomed to Fishguard a good quarter of a mile before you get anywhere near it, because...
Those houses, just visible among woods that can't possibly be connected to the road I'm on, could it? THAT'S Fishguard. Specifically, the bit that happens to be quite near where I live in Fishguard. And just a little further on...
AAAARGH! The same place, different routes, different hassles. I love going out... I just hate coming back, and not just because it's coming back. Still, I took lots of pictures, the itching on my knees has subsided (not my lower legs, the nettles only seemed to hit my knees... strangeness), I've stopped sneezing because I'm indoors, and nowhere near the massive volumes of pollen and cut grass I inhaled on the way back, I have some very snazzy trunks for swimming again, and I've managed to amuse you all.
So yes, even if it hadn't been a lovely day... It's been a lovely day.